Christmas is so close now and everyone is making their plans for the big day. My mother has invited my daughter and I to spend the holidays in Lincolnshire, which is just what we shall be doing; I’ve said before that Christmas means quality time with the family for me. We’ll be making the 3-hour journey up there the Sunday before Christmas Day, but if we were staying here in the southern region, I know exactly where I would be on that day instead.
The Actor’s Church in Covent Garden is hosting the annual West End Voices concert on Sunday 22nd December 2013. West End Voices at Christmas will see a high quality line-up of the West End’s leading performers come together in the popular venue for a festive night of musical excellence, singing a varied selection of musical theatre and Christmas songs. Sitting back and giving myself over to a little taste of Christmas joy with a glass of mulled wine in one hand and a mince pie in the other sounds like the perfect introduction to Christmas for me, and any other musical theatre fan.
Having previously co-hosted the Covent Garden Piazza event for the 2013 Olivier Awards with Claudia Winkleman, West End actor Michael Xavier certainly has the credentials to take on hosting duties for the West End Voices concert as well. The two-time Oliver Award nominated actor will be overseeing the festivities at the Actor’s Church during the night, as well as treating the audience to a song or two along the way. Most recently starring as Captain von Trapp in the acclaimed revival of The Sound of Music at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, he has also made a name for himself as a first-class musical theatre star with his performances in such productions as Love Story, Into The Woods, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and many more.
Joining him as part of the night’s line-up is his The Sound of Music co-star, Charlotte Wakefield. Currently one of the West End’s favourite things after her fantastic performance as singing nun Maria von Trapp, she was at the heart of the rave reviews which the production deservedly received and is a delicious treat for audience members of West End Voices at Christmas. She has also previously appeared in Spring Awakening and Mamma Mia. She is not the only treat the concert has in store however.
Simon Bailey, who was recently announced to be in the original cast of the X-Factor musical, I Can’t Sing!, will also be performing on the night. A West End stage star who most certainly can sing, he will soon be seen playing the ‘excessively affectionate’ host Liam O’Deary in the show, but not before being excessively talented on the stage of the Actor’s Church. He has been a part of such acclaimed shows as Les Miserables, Passion and Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, and starred as Raoul in both the West End and 25th Anniversary tour productions of The Phantom of the Opera, in addition to finding the time to release his debut album, Looking Up, last year.
There will also be performances from the likes of Peter Polycarpou (Miss Saigon, Sweeney Todd, Love Story), Jason Denton (Hello Dolly, Piaf), Jodie Jacobs (Rock of Ages, Fame), Tommy Sherlock (Matilda, Wicked), Julie Atherton (Avenue Q, Mamma Mia), Sabrina Aloueche (We Will Rock You, Les Miserables), Stephen Webb (From Here To Eternity, Footloose), Stuart Matthew Price (Shrek, Parade), Jessica Parker (Seussical The Musical, Kiss Me Kate), Adrian Hansel (Hairspray, Starlight Express) and Laura Pitt-Pulford (The Light Princess, Sunset Boulevard). The concert cast will also be backed by the West End Masterclass choir, a group of young West End hopefuls between the ages of 12 to 30. They receive exceptional training from West End performers, producers, directors, agents and other industry professionals to help them achieve a career on the West End stage. On the night of Sunday 22nd December, the audience will glimpse both present and future as the potential stars of tomorrow join the stars of today on the stage.
It is not just the spreading of Christmas joy that these West End performers are gathering together for though. West End Voices at Christmas is also a fundraising event which is supporting the Honeypot Children’s Charity in 2013. The charitable organisation was founded in 2006 with the vision of giving every child the chance to make the most of their once chance at childhood. Honeypot exists for vulnerable children and young carers aged 5-12 years, and is supported by the likes of historian and TV presenter Dan Snow, who recently became the charity’s newest patron. All profits from the concert will go towards continuing the good work of Honeypot Children’s Charity.
Christmas is about giving at the end of the day, and giving for a worthwhile cause such as this is what the Christmas season should epitomise. The West End performers are giving their time just as the ticket-buying audience are giving their money; all are donating something hard-earned in the name of charity and in the process, ensuring themselves a place on Santa’s Nice list! As much as I’m looking forward to a Christmas with my family, I wish I could be here too, so as not to miss out on what promises to be a wonderful night. I love the beautiful surroundings of the Actor’s Church and the quality of talent which will be singing on its stage is unparalleled. Some of my favourite names will be performing, and it’s truly a shame that I won’t be there to see them do what they do best while also lending my support to Honeypot. Just because I’ll be missing out though, doesn’t mean others can’t go along and enjoy the night’s events for me instead. This is a must for any musical theatre fan, and I have no doubt that West End Voices at Christmas will be just as much of a success as previous concerts have been.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
West End Voices at Christmas takes place at the Actor’s Church on Sunday 22nd December 2013, 7pm.